The world is your dining room table when you’re willing to take your meals outside. Luckily, D.C. is home to more than a few special public spaces and parks where you can dine alfresco all day long. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite lesser-known parks and paired them with the best place nearby to grab a meal to go.
Garfield Park, 148 F St. SE
Souk, 705 Eighth St. NW; 202-547-7685
This globally inspired marketplace offers a grab bag of breakfast pastries, with cheese turnovers, biscuits, spice buns, scones and croissants — including one variety stuffed with smoked salmon, potatoes and nori. The market recently started serving quiches, which make for a more substantial meal. Pack it all up in a basket made in Ghana purchased from Souk’s in-house bazaar and trot over to Garfield Park. In addition to benches, a tennis court and a volleyball net, this secluded park is filled with history: In 1898, workers discovered a dinosaur skeleton on its border. Dubbed Capitalsaurus, the creature became the official dinosaur of D.C. following an act passed in 1998.
Meridian Hill Park, 2400 15th St. NW
Each Peach, 3068 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-525-1725
Every evening around 7, this market is crawling with Mount Pleasant residents toting canvas bags and yoga mats. For a roomier shopping experience, stop by during lunch hours. Take your pick of locally made snacks, drinks and sandwiches made at the deli counter on the spot. (Our favorite is the Rock Creek Pork made with pork tenderloin, ham and Swiss cheese slathered with spicy mustard.) Walk your haul downhill to Meridian Hill Park, a sprawling green space with 12 acres of land, benches, a remarkable fountain and a statue of Joan of Arc. Time your meal to coincide with the Sunday afternoon drum circle.
Spanish Steps, 22nd Street NW between S Street and Decatur Place NW
Glen’s Garden Market, 2001 S St. NW; 202-588-5698
Glen’s houses 10,000 square feet of locally sourced food items, produce and prepared meals. At the deli counter from 4:30 p.m. and beyond, you can grab just-roasted chicken covered in herbs and spices. Pair your poultry with a side of salad (there are 30 or so varieties) sold by the pound. Going veggie? Opt for a pizza instead. There’s also a large selection of wine and beer, though we’d never encourage you to drink in public or partake in illegal activity (at least in writing, that is). Instead, enjoy a stiff drink at Glen’s bar before heading to the Spanish Steps, a dreamy oasis on 22nd Street NW where you can feast under a canopy of trees.
Crispus Attucks Park, between First and North Capitol streets NW and U and V streets NW
Grassroots Gourmet, 104 Rhode Island Ave. NW; 202-629-2040
This sliver of a bakery is packed with treats such as red velvet and carrot cake cupcakes, shortbread cookies and rugelach made using a recipe from the owner’s grandmother. For those with a sweet tooth, call ahead for a custom cake (vegan and gluten-free options available) with frosting in flavors including Nutella, bourbon and chai. Make the short stroll to Crispus Attucks Park, tucked away in the backyard of Bloomingdale townhouses. Previously an asphalt lot where many unsavory activities went down, the park is now a peaceful green space where those in the know escape for a quiet respite.
You may also like: